We highly recommend making some time to visit Old Harry Rocks during you holiday at South Lytchett Manor. This impressive cliff formation is one of the most iconic natural landmarks on the Jurassic Coast and a must see for anyone holidaying in Dorset. The impressive chalk cliffs are located in between Swanage and Studland Bay at the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast. They were once linked to the Needles in the Isle of Wight by a long stretch of chalk, which has eroded over time to leave the chalk stacks that remain today. The elevated position offers commanding views along the coast and out to sea. It’s a tranquil spot to enjoy some time in the great outdoors surrounded by nature.
The rocks are steeped in history and an integral part of Dorset folklore. There are many explanations for how they got their name, with some people believing they were named after the infamous pirate, Harry Paye. Other local legends seem to suggest that the Devil (sometimes referred to as Old Harry) once slept on these rocks.
A trip to Old Harry Rocks can be incorporated in a number of scenic walks. The most popular starts at South Beach car park at Studland and is ideal for a leisurely stroll. There’s a well marked footpath that extends just over a mile before reaching the cliff edge. It’s flat with good underfoot conditions for most of the route, making for a gentle walk. Dogs are permitted, but we highly recommend keeping them on a lead and under close control, because there is a sheer cliff edge accessible for parts of walk.
Avid hikers may wish to extend the route and continue further along the South West Coast Path. There’s an excellent circular walk from Swanage, which is approximately 7 miles. It passes through Ballard Downs and is popular with bird watchers, landscape photographers and nature enthusiasts.
If you’ve worked up an appetite there’s no need to worry, there are a couple of places close by to grab a bite to eat. We highly recommend stopping at the Bankes Arms for a hearty lunch or heading to Joe’s Cafe at South Beach. If you really want to push the boat out you can enjoy a relaxed approach to fine dining at the Pig on the Beach. We think this is one of the best restaurants in Dorset and the perfect holiday treat. It does get busy so we recommend booking in advance.
It takes approximately 30 minutes to travel to Old Harry Rocks from South Lytchett Manor via car. You can either follow the A351 through Wareham and Corfe, or make your way to Poole Harbour where you can take the chain ferry to Studland. There are plenty of pay and display parking options available, so you shouldn’t have to worry about finding a space. Many of the car parks are free to National Trust members.
Public toilets can be found just past the Bankes Arms.
If you’d prefer to see Old Harry from the sea, there are a number of options available. You can book a boat trip with City Cruises out of Swanage or Poole, or enjoy a guided paddle board tour with Fore Adventures from Studland Bay. Which ever option you choose, seeing the sea stacks from the water offers a unique view point that few people get to see. There’s also plenty of opportunities for wildlife watching – you might see a dolphin or rare species of sea bird.
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What a fabulous place! Our first outing in our new campervan to try it out, the campsite and facilities are... thewardrobem, Nov 2023
The best campsite I've ever stayed at, usually large complexes lose a bit of what camping is about, but not... Colin, May 2023
Great stay, very clean excellent facilities. Bus into Poole 15 mins nice shops and great walk by the Quay. Definitely... Janet, Nov 2023
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